Steve Spurrier's learned a bit more about No. 24 South Carolina — and likes what he's discovered.

The Gamecocks coach understands, he says, that right now his players can't match the group that went a program record 11-2 in each of the past three seasons. But he saw a fire in his players on the sidelines and improvement on the field in a 33-23 victory over East Carolina and that's enough for now.

Spurrier said the Gamecocks (1-1), who fell three spots in the rankings, realize they're a team that must scratch and claw for every yard and each stop in order to come out on top.

That's what took place Saturday night when the Gamecocks withstood an early blitz by the Pirates (1-1) and gradually gained control.